Iíve been a freelance writer since 1993 and Iíve made so many mistakes I could literally write a book about them. Some mistakes canít be helped, but there are definitely those you donít have to make in order to learn the lesson.
Freelance Writers: Are You Making Any of These Mistakes?
Following are four of the most common mistakes I see many new (and a good number of experienced) freelance writers making.
I. Not Creating a Marketing Schedule: Iíve said this one gazillion and one times, but it bears repeating Ė marketing is the lifeblood of any business. And when you fail to do it Ė consistently Ė you put yourself in danger of living a feast-or-famine existence as a freelance writer.
Donít do this. You deserve better.
Just because you freelance does not mean that you have to have such an unstable income. Sure, itíll never be as consistent as having a 9-to-5 job, but when you fail to create Ė and stick to Ė a consistent marketing schedule, you exponentially increase your chances of not succeeding as a freelancer.
So make this a "must do" when you start your freelance writing business. Create a marketing schedule Ė preferably reaching out to a certain number of contacts every day. And, do it first thing in the morning.
This way, youíll get it out of the way Ė and youíll develop the habit of constantly keeping writing jobs and prospects in your pipeline. THIS is the way to practically guarantee that you'll stay busy as a freelancer.
II. Failing to Say No: This means not only to clients who want to low-ball you, but to friends, family, organizations that want you to volunteer and anyone else who takes for granted that just because you freelance, youíre always "available."
As a freelance writer, I get up and "report to the office" every day Ė just like when I worked in corporate America. The only thing thatís changed has been my uniform. Now I work in my bunny slippers and may not comb my hair until late afternoon (if at all).
To succeed as a freelancer, you must treat your career like a business -- and that means respecting your time. Sure you can set your own schedule and it can be re-arranged at will. But, trust me, youíll dramatically increase your chances of success if you stick to some kind of routine.
III. Undercharging: There is no one right or wrong freelance writing rate. In fact, they're all over the place; but I can tell you this, $3 for 500 words is definitely undercharging.
I tell all freelance writers to charge what you need to make a living, and the best way to figure this out is to get really intimate with your numbers (ie, your expenses). This includes self-employment taxes, which can be anywhere from 10 to 35 percent (or more) of your freelance income.
Learn more about freelance finances and taxes.
IV. Failing to Consistently Raise Rates: Many freelancers set their rates when they first start out, then may not revisit them for a few years Ė or longer.
Like any business, your costs go up too, eg, your electric bill, cell phone charges, office supplies, etc. So just like when you were an employee, donít forget to give yourself "a raise" by increasing your rates regularly.
I raise rates at my SEO writing company every 18 months or so. In my experience, around the first of the year is a good time to do so, as well as during the summer, when things tend to be a bit slower.
You are going to make mistakes in your freelance writing career; we all do. But, the ones listed here don't have to be among them.
About the Author: Yuwanda Black heads New Media Words, an SEO writing company she founded in 2008, and is the publisher of Inkwell Editorial, a blog devoted to helping others start successful, home-based writing careers. She's also the author of over 50 ebooks, most of which cover some aspect of freelance writing. They can be found on major outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Get everything you need to start a successful, home-based, freelance writing business.
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